Saturday, April 29, 2006


My new plan is to whine more often. Eighteen comments on that entry about how people don't comment! Cynthia was right; whiners are well-compensated in blogland.

My other new plan is to steal an idea from
TJ and inaugurate Sunday Some -- tomorrow! -- featuring some of the blogs I've enjoyed over the previous week.

I'm working on a paper on movies about St. Francis, so in the last couple of days I've watched Rossellini's
The Flowers of St. Francis and Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon. One an artistic post-World War II look at transformation and redemption, the other a 1970s hippy version of conflict and drama in an incredibly clean medieval Italy in which Donovan sings. Clare is a paragon of beauty and virtue in both; Francis is way too beautiful in the second. But I'm happy.

Most recent novel read: A Thread of Grace. All I can say is: go and get it and start reading. The Jews and the Italian Resistance movement during World War II.

And while you're at it, pick up
Mary Doria Russell's other two novels. I haven't read the middle one yet. I was telling one of my colleagues ~ a young rabbi ~ about A Thread of Grace yesterday, and he said his wife had just purchased it. Then we talked about The Sparrow and he started laughing and said, "If you're going to have science fiction with priests, they would have to be Jesuits."

The novels do, in a strange kind of way, fit with the Francis films.

The Holocaust does , too, except that it fits with nothing. This past Tuesday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of the survivors who spoke at our school, once a Czechoslovakian youth, now a retired cabinetmaker, told about getting off the train at Auchswitz, where Joseph Mengele was the man pointing, "Left, Right." His mother and sisters were sent in the direction of murder. No good-byes, only the horrific, screaming, gasping deaths of young women and little girls as Zyklon B poured out of the shower heads. He and his father and brothers were sent the other way. He was eventually transported to Buchenwald, where he was saved with, quite literally, minutes to spare, by the delaying tactics of a Christian political prisoner and a terrified young Jewish boy, and the surprising arrival of Allied planes overhead.

Francis in the fields of Umbria
and my students' teenaged grandfather carrying the stones at Buchenwald. What I've learned this week. No whining allowed.


Lisa H. said...

My DS has just chosen the name Francis fro his confirmation. Partly is was from my recomendation and partly because he has to write a 3 page paper on the saint he chose. Let's just say there was not a lot of information on some names.
My highs school was Franciscan and I found the brothers to be amazing people. Imagine my shock when I (a female) got to a Jesuit college.
There was a Broadway show called "Francis", shortlived, poorly done, but revamped by my hs. Oddly enough our Francis was also very good looking,lol.

Anonymous said...

Love the daffodil picture. This is daffodil country out here. Last weekend was the daffodil parade - a really big deal in these parts. In a nearby town there were fields of daffodils, they grow them and then sell the flowers to stores. It was really a beautiful sight when they were all blooming. I was a procrastinator and planted my bulbs late, so as everyone elses daffodils are dieing now, mine are just blooming.

Lisa C. said...

It breaks my heart to think that all too soon, there will be no Holocaust survivors to make sure no one ever forgets.

Vicky said...

Oh, my, Robin. The Holocaust story was hard to read. How can anyone ever live "happily" after experiencing such horror?

Meanwhile, whine away! It makes it easier for others to join in!


PS - daffodils are my second favorite flowers. Thanks for the pic

Kathryn said...

"Thread of Grace" was one of the best books I read last year. Do you have any recommendations of books about St. Francis?